Visit San Francisco: top 27 things to do and must-see attractions


Things to do in San Francisco: the 27 best highlights and points of interest

You’re planning to visit San Francisco and you’re looking for the best things to do?

You’re at the right place!

The world famous Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz island, the iconic cable cars… you’re for sure going to love exploring San Francisco’s iconic places to visit and discovering the city’s best activities.

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this guide of the 27 best things to do in San Francisco, with all points of interest and must-see attractions.

In addition to this list of things to do and activities, I will also give you itineraries to visit San Francisco in 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

So, what are the best things to do in San Francisco? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

Visit San Francisco: All must see attractions

1. The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is undoubtedly San Francisco’s most iconic landmark.

Whether you’re admiring it from afar or walking its 2.7-kilometer length, it’s a must-see attraction during your San Francisco trip.

In my opinion, you should really take some time for a walk on the bridge: it’s a great experience and you will enjoy beautiful panoramic views over the city and the bay!

And if you’re into photography, you’ll want to capture this magnificent red suspension bridge during sunrise or sunset.

Voyage Tips - Advice

Here are the best viewpoints over the Golden Gate Bridge:

  • Battery Spencer: Located on the Marin side of the bridge, this is probably the most popular photo spot. It offers a bird’eye view of the bridge against the backdrop of San Francisco’s skyline.
  • Vista Point: Found at the northern end of the bridge, Vista Point is the perfect place to photograph the entire length of the bridge, especially during sunset.
  • Fort Point: Located directly under the bridge, this Civil War-era fortress provides a unique perspective.
  • Baker Beach: A great place to photograph the Golden Gate with the Pacific Ocean in the foreground. It’s particularly beautiful at the end of the day.
  • Marshall’s Beach: My favourite viewpoint and a quieter alternative to Baker Beach. You will for sure love the fantastic view over the bridge, especially during sunset.
  • Crissy Field: A former military airfield that’s now a scenic beach and park area, offering several nice viewpoints over the bridge, with San Francisco Marina district in the backdrop.
  • Golden Gate Overlook: Located in the Presidio, this spot provides great views of the bridge with cypress trees acting as a natural frame.
Golden Gate
Golden Gate

2. Alcatraz Island

Located in the middle of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island was a federal prison that housed some of America’s most notorious criminals, including Al “Scarface” Capone, Robert “Birdman” Stroud, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.

The prison was reputedly escape-proof, but that didn’t stop inmates from trying.

The most famous escape attempt is the 1962 escape where Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin dug out of their cells and disappeared, sparking a massive manhunt and inspiring the movie “Escape from Alcatraz.”

Alcatraz was closed in 1963, primarily due to high operating costs and deteriorating facilities. Now, it’s a National Park and historical site.

You should definitely take the ferry over and experience the self-guided audio tour of the cellhouse.

You can see the main cell block, solitary confinement, the library, and other parts of the prison. Some cells are set up to show real living conditions.

Various exhibits showcase historical artifacts, documents, and photographs. They delve into stories of inmates, escape attempts, and life on “The Rock.”

The island also offers views of the San Francisco skyline.

Voyage Tips - Advice

You have to book your Alcatraz tickets well in advance as it’s one of the most touristic sites in San Francisco. I recommend you to buy the ticket which includes the return ferry ticket + entrance to Alcatraz + audio guide to the prison.

You’ll also get a 2-day Hop-On Hop-Off bus pass and a guided tour of Chinatown.

To visit Alcatraz during your stay in San Francisco, you need to click on the green button below:

Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island

3. Fisherman’s Wharf / Pier 39

Now, you should head to Fisherman’s Wharf, one of San Francisco’s main tourist attractions.

This bustling area is filled with entertainment options, street performers, and a lot of dining choices.

Don’t forget to try the clam chowder in a sourdough bowl – it’s a San Francisco classic!

Here, you can taste some seafood, shop for souvenirs, and observe the playful sea lions at Pier 39.

Voyage Tips - Advice

To visit San Francisco and save money,you should buy the San Francisco All-inclusive pass by Go City. 

You will have access to more than 30 tourist attractions and the pass is valid for 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days. 

Here are some of the activities included:

  • Cruise around Alcatraz Island
  • San Francisco Bay Cruise
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • Fisherman’s wharf walking tour
  • Mission district tour
  • Castro district walking tour
  • Entrance to the museums.

Since all these attractions are among the best things to do in San Francisco, this City Pass is really perfect for you visit!

For more information about this pass and the activities included, click on the button below:

Pier 39 San Francisco sea lions
Pier 39 San Francisco sea lions

4. San Francisco Cable Car Rides

No visit to San Francisco is complete without hopping on one of its historic cable cars.

These classic trams offer a unique way to navigate the city’s hilly streets.

For a scenic route, take the Powell-Hyde line, which is the most popular. It offers fantastic views of the bay and passes near iconic spots like Lombard Street. 

It start from Market street at Powell and ends at Hyde and Beach streets in Fisherman’s wharf (it takes about 20 minutes). On the way to Fisherman’s wharf, you should sit on the right side to enjoy the best view of the city (and left side for the return).

Each ride on the San Francisco cable car costs 8$ per person. 

Even if you don’t want to go on a ride, this is another must-see touristic attraction in San Francisco to add to your list!

San Francisco cable car
San Francisco cable car

5. San Francisco Bay Cruise

Looking for more fun things to do in San Francisco?

To enjoy a different perspective of the city and its major landmarks, you should do a bay cruise.

The most popular is the Golden Gate Bay Cruise*, which takes you under the famous bridge and around Alcatraz Island (but doesn’t stop on the island).

It lasts 1 hour and includes an audio guide available in 16 languages.

You need to book your boat trip in San Francisco by clicking on the button below:

*Note that if you have bought the San Francisco All inclusive pass, this boat trip in the bay is included.

For a more intimate experience, this cruise is also available on a catamaran. Click here for more information and to book!

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you want to take a more romantic cruise during your stay in San Francisco, I recommend choosing between:

San Francisco Bay Cruise
San Francisco Bay Cruise

6. Golden Gate Park

The Golden Gate Park, an urban park sprawling over 4.1 km² (the largest in the city), is one of the best place to go for a walk in San Francisco. 

To make it easier to plan your visit, here is the list of the best tthings to do in Golden Gate Park:

  • Rent a pedal boat on Stow Lake
  • Relax by the Dutch and Murphy Windmill amidst its beautiful flower garden.
  • Visit the Japanese Tea Garden where you can grab a cup of traditional tea.
  • Go see the Bison paddock where you can observe a herd of American bison
  • California Academy of Sciences – I’ll tell you more about it below
  • Huntington falls
  • The Conservatory of flowers, which houses more than 1700 species of tropical and aquatic plants
  • San Francisco Botanical garden and its plants from all over the world.

As the Golden Gate Park is the largest park in the city (bigger than Central Park in New York), you should pass by the visitor center to get a map. It’s located at the park’s western end, in the Beach Chalet.

If you don’t want to walk, you can book this 2.5-hour guided tour of the park by segway (click here!). It’s a lot of fun!

There is also a free shuttle that stops at some of the park’s most popular attractions.

Voyage Tips - Advice

You’re going to San Francisco?

You probably know it: the hardest part of planning your trip is to find an hotel offering a good value for money!

And that’s even worse in big touristic cities like San Francisco 😅.

The closer you get to your travel dates, the harder it will be to get a good deal. Tens of thousands of people will be visiting San Francisco on the same dates as you, so you can be sure that the best deals are booked extremely quickly!

Hopefully, there is a pretty simple solution to this problem: do like me and book your hotel as early as possible!

So, my best advice is to take 5 minutes (now) to have a look at the list of travelers’ favorite hotels in San Francisco.

And if you see a good offer, book it!

Most hotels offer free cancellation, so it’s quick, easy, and you will avoid the the inconvenience of finding nothing but mediocre rooms at exorbitant prices.

To check the current best deals for your hotel in San Francisco, simply click on the green button below 😎:

Once you’ve booked your hotel, it will be time to continue reading this guide and find out more about the best things to do in San Francisco!

Golden Gate Park Japanese tea garden
Golden Gate Park Japanese tea garden

7. Lombard Street

Famously known as the “crookedest street in the world”, Lombard Street is a place you shouldn’t miss during your holidays in San Francisco.

It’s a steep road with eight hairpin turns, adorned with beautiful flowerbeds all year round.

You can walk down the street or drive down if you are not too scared. If driving, be prepared for a slow descent and a lot of tourists.

However, the best view is from the bottom, looking up, so make sure to capture that shot!

Either way, it’s an iconic part of San Francisco to see!

lombard street San Francisco
Lombard street San Francisco

8. California Academy of Sciences

Let’s continue this guide of San Francisco with the California Academy of Sciences, a powerhouse of discovery located within Golden Gate Park.

With an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and a rainforest, this is a perfect place to visit for both kids and adults. It’s very informative and interactive at the same time.

Entrance is included with the San Francisco All-inclusive pass by Go City.

If you don’t have the pass, you need to book your tickets in advance by clicking on the button below:

9. Painted Ladies of Alamo Square

You’ve probably seen them on postcards or TV shows. The Painted Ladies are a row of historical homes that contrast beautifully against the modern city skyline.

With their pastel-painted facades, these Victorian houses are really pretty!

Alamo Square offers a comfortable spot to relax and take in this iconic view during your trip to San Francisco. 

If you want to take the best pictures of the houses, you should go there early morning or late afternoon to get the best lighting. Plus, these times are usually less crowded.

Your Go City pass includes a walking tour in and around San Francisco’s historic Alamo Square.

You will have the chance to see the Painted Ladies but also the Chateau Tivoli, William Westerfeld House and the Third Baptist Church.

Painted Ladies of Alamo Square
Painted Ladies of Alamo Square

10. Mission District Murals

The Mission District in San Francisco is renowned for its numerous street murals that illustrate various themes, from social issues to local culture.

Walking the streets, you’re treated to an outdoor gallery showcasing the city’s history and diverse communities.

Here are some of the most famous artworks:

  • The Women’s Building (“MaestraPeace” Mural) located at 3543 18th St – This massive mural envelops The Women’s Building and celebrates women’s contributions throughout history. It was painted by seven female artists.
  • “Carnaval Mural” (24th St & South Van Ness Ave), a celebration of the annual Carnaval San Francisco festival.
  • “Latinoamérica” (24th St & Mission St): this mural portrays various Latin American leaders and symbols, emphasizing unity and cultural pride.
  • “Amor Eterno” (24th St & Harrison St), a tribute to the Day of the Dead (“Dia de los Muertos”), which is a traditional celebration to honor dead people in Mexico
  • “Balmy Alley Murals”: this alley boasts the most concentrated collection of murals in San Francisco. Since the mid-1980s, many artists have painted the fences, garages, and buildings in this alley.
  • Clarion Alley Murals”: this alley features an ever-evolving collection of murals and is one of the most visited mural sites in San Francisco.
Voyage Tips - Advice

If you’re planning to visit San Francisco and bought the San Franciso All inclusive pass, a guided tour of the Mission District is included. In addition to admiring the most beautiful murals, the tour also includes stops to sample some Latin American specialities such as tacos, pupusas and guacamole.

If you don’t have the pass, you can book this tour by clicking here!

Mission District Murals
Mission District Murals

11. Chinatown

Chinatown is an other district that you shouldn’t miss during your trip to San Francisco.

The city boasts the oldest and one of the largest Chinatowns in North America. A walk through the Dragon’s gate leads you into a world of rich culture, delicious food, and bustling markets.

Explore the alleys, the famous Stockton Street and Grant Avenue, taste authentic Chinese cuisine (try some dim sum or grab a mooncake from a local bakery), and shop for souvenirs.

If you wish, you can also book a guided walking tour of Chinatown. It lasts 3 hours and includes several tastings (tea, dim sum, fortune cookies…):

Chinatown San Francisco
Chinatown San Francisco

12. The Castro District

A beacon of LGBTQ+ pride and history, the Castro District stands out with its rainbow crosswalks and powerful murals.

It’s a neighborhood that has been the epicenter of many pivotal moments in the gay rights movement.

As you stroll around, you’ll come across plaques detailing the district’s storied history, particularly its role during the 70s and 80s.

Visiting the GLBT Historical Society Museum will give you an in-depth understanding of the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community.

Filled with boutique shops and lively bars, the Castro offers a unique blend of the past and present.

You can also catch a film or see a drag queen show at the iconic Castro Theatre, an architectural marvel in itself.

And if you want to find out more about the district, you can take a free guided tour with the San Franciso All inclusive pass.

Castro District san francisco
Castro District san francisco

13. Haight-Ashbury District

The birthplace of the 1960s counterculture and Hippie movement, the Haight-Ashbury District is known for the “Summer of Love”, a series of events that happened in 1967 where about 100 000 Hippies gathered in the neighborhood.

Today, its bohemian spirit remains intact with quirky boutiques, vinyl record stores, and colorful murals.

For those interested in vintage items or unique finds, this district is a treasure trove that you should really see during your visit to San Francisco.

Every corner speaks of its history, from the days of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead until his transformation as a hip urban neighborhood.

Haight Ashbury District San Francisco
Haight Ashbury District San Francisco

14. Muir Woods National Monument

Let’s continue this San Francisco travel guide at Muir Woods National Monument, a short drive from the city.

It offers a tranquil escape into ancient redwood forests.

These towering trees, some of which are over 800 years old and reach heights of more than 75 meters, create a canopy that seems to touch the sky.

There, you can opt for one of the 3 easy hikes a 30 minutes loop, a 1 hour loop, and a 1h30 loop.

You can find information about entrance fees and parking reservations (which are required) on the official website. 

It’s one of the main tourist attractions to see around San Francisco!

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you don’t have a car to go to Muir Woods, you should book this organized day trip.

It includes return transport from San Francisco, entrance fees to Muir Woods and a visit to the charming seaside resort of Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate Bridge:

Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument

15. Ferry Building Marketplace

Standing tall on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, the Ferry Building Marketplace is a gourmet’s paradise.

This historic building houses an array of artisanal shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Whether you’re in the mood for a delicious lunch, sweet treats, freshly baked bread, or organic fruits, this marketplace has it all!

It’s also a prime spot to enjoy views of the bay while sipping on some local wine or coffee.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, there is also a farmers market which is a must-visit in San Francisco. It’s where you can sample and buy some of the freshest artisanal produce of the region.

Ferry Building Marketplace San Francisco
Ferry Building Marketplace San Francisco

16. Twin Peaks

You’re looking for more things to do in San Francisco?

For the best panoramic views of San Francisco, head to Twin Peaks. These two hills stand at nearly 300 meters, offering unobstructed vistas of the city and the bay beyond.

Drive or hike up to the summit, and ideally try to get there for sunset, the perfect time to enjoy the view.

The iconic landmarks, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the downtown skyscrapers, lay out before you in a beautiful panorama.

Twin Peaks San Francisco
Twin Peaks San Francisco

17. The 8 Best Museums in San Francisco

San Francisco is also a hub for art, history, and science. Here are some of the city’s must-visit museums:

  • Exploratorium: Situated on Pier 15, the Exploratorium isn’t just a museum; it’s an interactive experience. Blending science, art, and human perception, it’s a playground that both kids and adults can enjoy.
  • Walt Disney Family Museum: Dive into the fascinating life and legacy of Walt Disney at this museum located in the scenic Presidio. It narrates Disney’s journey, from his early days to creating the global phenomenon that Disney has become today.
  • SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art): Housing an expansive collection of contemporary and modern art, the SFMOMA is a haven for art lovers. Its sleek architecture itself is a work of art, making it an emblem of modern design in the city.
  • The Beat Museum: a deep dive into a defining literary movement. If the names Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsberg resonate with you, this is a place you shouldn’t miss.
  • Madame Tussauds: With lifelike wax figures ranging from celebrities to historical figures, it promises an entertaining experience. It’s located at Fisherman’s Wharf, so you can easily combine this visit with other attractions in the area.
  • De Young Museum and Legion of Honor: a fine arts museum located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, known for its diverse collection of American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries, as well as indigenous works from the Americas, Oceania, and Africa.
  • Asian Art Museum: a renowned institution showcasing an extensive collection of Asian art spanning 6,000 years of history and various cultures.
  • U.S.S Hornet Museum: a historic aircraft carrier turned museum that commemorates naval and space exploration history.
Voyage Tips - Advice

Admission to all these museums in San Francisco is included with the San Franciso All inclusive pass.

18. Coit Tower

Offering 360-degree panoramic views of San Francisco, Coit Tower is an iconic structure atop Telegraph Hill.

Beyond the views, its interiors are adorned with beautiful murals depicting life in 1930s San Francisco.

If you don’t feel like walking to the top of the hill, you can get there with a bus or taxi.

Coit Tower San Francisco
Coit Tower San Francisco

19. Palace of Fine Arts

An architectural gem in the Marina District, the Palace of Fine Arts is reminiscent of Roman and Greek ruins.

It’s a nice spot, with its rotunda reflecting in the calm waters, making it the perfect place to relax and snap a few beautiful pictures!

Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco
Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco

20. Oracle Park (for a Giants baseball game)

Baseball fan or not, attending a Giants game at Oracle Park is an amazing San Francisco experience.

Overlooking the bay, the stadium offers not just sports, but also a fabulous view, especially during sunset.

Get some classic ballgame snacks, enjoy the lively atmosphere, and if you’re lucky, catch a ‘splash hit’ – a home run that lands in the bay!

Oracle Park San Francisco
Oracle Park San Francisco

21. Union Square – Shopping in San Francisco

Union Square is the heart of San Francisco’s shopping district.  From luxury brands to unique boutiques, it caters to every kind of shopper.

Apart from shopping, it’s also a hub for dining, theater, and art with a lot of galleries.

And of course, it’s the best spot to enjoy Christmas activities in San Francisco during the Christmas holidays!

Union Square San Francisco
Union Square – San Francisco

22. San Francisco Beaches

When you think of visiting San Francisco, beaches might not be the first thing that comes to mind.

However, the city offers many beautiful sandy spots that deserve recognition. Each beach has its charm and vibe, making it a delightful addition to your itinerary in San Francisco.

Stretching along the city’s western edge and kissed by the Pacific Ocean, Ocean Beach is a vast expanse of sand and surf. It’s the perfect spot to experience the wilder side of California’s coastline.

The waters can be quite chilly, so it might not be your typical swimming destination. However, you can stroll along the shoreline, watch surfers catch waves, or simply enjoy the sunset.

Nearby, you’ll find the Cliff House, a historic spot ideal for a meal with a view.

Other beaches worth checking out in San Francisco:

  • Baker Beach: Known for its iconic view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • China Beach: A small cove tucked between Sea Cliff and Baker Beach.
  • Crissy Field: A recreational area with a beachfront, offering views of the Golden Gate and Alcatraz.
  • Fort Funston: A hotspot for hang gliding and hiking on cliffside trails.
View on the Golden Gate from Baker beach
View on the Golden Gate from Baker beach

23. Presidio of San Francisco

Once a military post, the Presidio of San Francisco is now a national park offering a mix of history, nature, and some of the city’s most iconic sights.

Nestled on the northern tip of San Francisco Peninsula, it encompasses verdant meadows, scenic overlooks, and historic buildings.

Kick-start your day at the Presidio Visitor Center, where you can gather insights about the park’s history and its attractions.

Don’t miss the Golden Gate Overlook for that postcard-perfect shot of the bridge!

You can also head to the Presidio’s very own redwood grove – the Wood Line. If you’re up for a hike, you should do the Presidio Promenade (1h30 – 2h) or any of the park’s numerous trails.

Golden Gate bridge from Presidio of San Francisco
Golden Gate bridge from Presidio of San Francisco

24. Other activities in San Francisco

Here are a few other activities to enjoy in San Francisco (simply click on the links for more information and to book):

GoCar San Francisco
GoCar San Francisco

Best Things to Do Around San Francisco

Now that you know everything about the best things to do in the city, it’s time to discover the best places to visit around San Francisco.

Venturing out a bit further allows travelers to experience some of California’s most iconic landscapes and tourist attractions.

Let’s thus uncover a few of these must-visit spots!

For these day trips you will have 2 options: you can get there on your own by renting a car or opt for organized day trips from San Francisco with transport included.

You should check car rental agencies rates on (click here). It’s the best way to get the best price!

25. Yosemite National Park

Located about a 4-hour drive from San Francisco, Yosemite National Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts.

This UNESCO World Heritage site boasts granite cliffs, ancient sequoias, beautiful valleys, and cascading waterfalls.

For first-time visitors, you should head to Yosemite Valley to see the most famous landmarks such as El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall.

If you’re an avid hiker, trails like the Mist Trail or the trek to Glacier Point are highly recommended.

And don’t forget to stop by the Mariposa Grove to witness over 500 giant sequoias.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you don’t have a car, here is the best organized day trip with transport included from San Francisco to visit Yosemite:

It includes plenty of photo breaks and free time for hiking in the park. It’s one of the most popular excursion around San Francisco!

You need to click on the green button below to book it:

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park

26. Napa and Sonoma Valley

When it comes to wine country in California, two names stand out: Napa and Sonoma.

Just an hour drive from San Francisco, these valleys are famous for their vineyards, luxurious resorts, and, of course, exceptional wines.

You can embark on wine tasting tours where experts walk you through the art of viticulture and the flavors of different grape varieties.

And between tastings, indulge in gourmet meals at local restaurants.

You should also take a leisurely drive along the Silverado Trail or the Sonoma Valley to soak in the picturesque views.

Voyage Tips - Advice

To visit Napa and Sonoma Valley from San Francisco, book your excursion with transport and 3 vineyard visits (+ tastings!):

Another great way to discover Napa Valley is to opt for a hot air baloon ride (click here). The view from up there is really breathtaking!

Napa Valley hot air baloon
Napa Valley hot air baloon

27. Monterey and Carmel

Drive south along the famed Pacific Coast Highway, and you’ll reach the charming coastal towns of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Both destinations are just over a 2-hour drive from San Francisco.

In Monterey, you can visit the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. Dive into marine biodiversity and discover everything from kelp forests to adorable sea otters.

Then stroll along Cannery Row, which was once the sardine-packing heart of the town, now brimming with shops and eateries.

Carmel, on the other hand, is a haven for art lovers. Art galleries, boutique shops, and a pristine beach create a quiet atmosphere.

And if you’re up for a scenic drive, the nearby 17-Mile Drive promises breathtaking ocean views and glimpses of lavish mansions.

Voyage Tips - Advice

During your visit to Monterey I highly recommend a great activity: a whale-watching cruise!

Monterey Bay is famous for being home to many species of whales. Whatever the time of year, you’re guaranteed to see them!

The boat trip is also commented by a biologist who will teach you more about these extraordinary marine mammals.

Book your whale-watching cruise in Monterey by clicking here:

How many days to spend in San Francisco?

To discover the main points of interest in San Francisco, I recommend you to spend 2 days in the city.

If you plan to visit the museums or explore the surrounding area, you can of course allow more time.

I will give you itineraries to visit San Francisco in 1, 2, 3, 4 or more days a bit below.

Voyage Tips - Advice

Don’t forget that you can save a lot of money with the San Francisco All-inclusive Pass!

It includes access to more than 30 attractions.

To get more information about the activities included, click here:

One day in San Francisco

If you only have one day to visit San Francisco, you should follow this itinerary:

To get a good overview of the city in 1 day, you can also take the Hop on Hop off bus. The tickets need to be booked here!

2 days in San Francisco

If you plan to spend 2 days in San Francisco, you should follow this itinerary:

Day 1

Day 2

To easily organize your 2-day trip to San Francisco, you should read my detailed itinerary: The Perfect itinerary for 2 days in San Francisco

3 days in San Francisco

You plan to stay 3 days in San Francisco?

For the 2 first days, you can follow the itinerary I mentioned above. And for your third day in the city, you should go to Muir Woods National Monument. 

After that you can also visit Sausalito.

On the way back to San Francisco, before crossing the bridge, you can stop off at the Vista Point and/or Battery Spencer viewpoints.

All the information to plan your 3 days in San Francisco is in guide: 3 Days in San Francisco – Itinerary + Tips

4 days and more in San Francisco

For 4-day in San Francisco, you can do the 3 days itinerary I mentioned above.

For day 4, you can go on an guided tour to Yosemite National Park, the Napa and Sonoma Valley or to Monterey and Carmel.

To easily plan your 4-day stay in San Francisco, you should read my other article: The Perfect 4-day itinerary in San Francisco

Where to stay in San Francisco

There are a lot of hotels in San Francisco, and choosing the best for your stay can be a bit complicated.

In order to help you out, I have selected for you the best hotels in San Francisco, depending on your budget.

As always, to get the best prices, you should book your hotel as early as possible!

  • HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel: Youth hostel located in Union Square. Beds in dormitories from €50. Strong points: location, warm welcome, friendly atmosphere. An excellent choice for cheap accomodation in San Francisco!
  • Grant Hotel: Located 5 minutes’ walk from Union Square. Rooms are decorated in a slightly old-fashioned style but are spacious and clean from €105 per night. Strong points: location, free coffee and biscuits, friendly staff.
  • Greenwich Inn: Located between Presidio Park and Fisherman’s Wharf. Double room from €150 per night. Strong points: free parking, warm welcome, spacious room, plenty of restaurants in the area.
  • Handlery Union Square Hotel: Located in Union Square. Very spacious and comfortable double room with large windows from €210. Strong points: outdoor swimming pool, perfect for visiting San Francisco, comfortable beds.
  • Riu Plaza Fisherman’s Wharf: Located in Fisherman’s wharf. Modern, comfortable double room from €270, breakfast included. Strong points: outdoor swimming pool, location, good breakfast, very helpful staff.
  • Hotel Nikko San Francisco: Located in Union Square, this 5-star hotel offers tastefully decorated rooms from €500. Strong points: indoor pool, spa, attentive staff, design, valet parking.

Where to eat in San Francisco

When it comes to San Francisco, the city’s culinary scene is as diverse as its iconic landmarks.

From the waterfront views of Fisherman’s Wharf to the bustling streets of Chinatown or the Ferry Building Marketplace, every corner promises a gastronomic delight.

If you’re a foodie, you should really go to Ghirardelli Square.

Synonymous with rich and creamy chocolate, Ghirardelli Square is a historic landmark that once housed the original Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory.

Begin with a visit to the Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. You can’t leave without trying their world-famous hot fudge sundae.

Apart from chocolate delights, Ghirardelli Square is home to various restaurants serving everything from gourmet meals to quick bites. If you’re in the mood for some wine, there are tasting rooms offering selections from local vineyards. 

In addition to Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco boasts a plethora of dining options to cater to every palate. Here’s a list of other must-visit eateries:

  • Tartine Bakery & Café: Located in the Mission District, this bakery is famed for its artisanal bread and pastries. A must-try is their morning bun, a delightful mix of croissant and cinnamon roll.
  • Swan Oyster Depot: For seafood lovers, this century-old eatery offers the freshest oysters, crab legs, and more.
  • Zuni Café: This iconic restaurant is celebrated for its roasted chicken and bread salad.
  • Nopa: A haven for organic cuisine, Nopa specializes in wood-grilled dishes. Their burger, paired with a cocktail, is one of the best of the city.
  • Brenda’s French Soul Food: Brenda’s serves up mouthwatering dishes like shrimp & grits and beignets that transport you straight to New Orleans.

Best Things to Do in San Francisco with kids

If you’re planning to visit San Francisco with your family, here is the list of the best things to do with children:

  • San Francisco Zoo: this zoo showcases more than 250 species, from towering giraffes to tiny meerkats.
  • Aquarium of the Bay: situated at Pier 39, it offers a deep dive into the marine ecosystems of San Francisco Bay and its surrounding waters. Here, children can marvel at over 20,000 marine animals.
  • Legoland Discovery Center is located in Milpitas, just a short drive from San Francisco. This indoor Lego playground is filled with over 2 million Lego bricks. There are a multitude of themed play areas, including a Lego Racers track and a Lego Duplo area for younger kids.
  • Visit the California Academy of Sciences
  • Walk along the Fisherman’s wharf
  • Take a ride on the San Francisco Cable car
  • Embark on a San Francisco bay cruise.

Now, you know all the best things to do in San Francisco! If you need help to plan your stay, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section below. 

Tourist map of San Francisco

To help you plan your visits, I have made a tourist map of San Francisco, with all the best places to visit, must see attractions and activities I talk about in this guide.

You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button, the one with a small arrow.

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Best places to visit in San Francisco
Best places to visit in San Francisco

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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